AN: The author of this story has given me permission to continue on with her story for reasons of loss of interest and a very busy life. I am very grateful that she has allowed me to continue on with the story. The first three chapters are hers, so please let her know what you think. I just hope I can do this story justice from now on.
Inu-Yasha gazed lazily at the villagers gathered to watch Miroku's 'exorcism.' Every time Miroku pulled this trick, the half- demon kept expecting someone to catch on and denounce them, but they never did. Humans were just too gullible sometimes. It was probably just because they feared demons so much that they let themselves be fooled so easily, but it still disgusted him.
After Miroku finished his well-worn scam, the villagers dispersed and the traveler's began settling down for the night. Sitting on the front porch of their host's house, Inu-Yasha watched the others go about their business. There was a path that ran across the side of the house which led to a good well, judging by the number of people he saw walking by laden with buckets of water. It was a hot day; no doubt they needed to irrigate vegetable gardens. One young woman happened to catch his eye. She was of average height, impossibly slender, and looked almost fragile, yet she was carrying a pair of full buckets that seemed far too large with no apparent effort. Her slightly worn yukata was tinted a lovely light green, as was a scarf that covered her head despite the heat, and she was wearing a necklace that looked as though it might be gold. The sun flashing off the necklace was what had attracted his attention in the first place, and the contradictions in her appearance made him curious enough to stare. As if sensing his regard, she glanced towards him. She must have seen something that startled her, for she suddenly whipped her head around to stare back at him, stumbling and spilling her buckets in the process. Even more curious now, Inu-Yasha walked over to the embarrassed lass and offered her a hand up.
"Hey, are you all right?" he asked. She nodded slightly, her eyes wide. For some reason this made Inu-Yasha feel obscurely guilty, so he covered his discomfort by picking up the discarded buckets. "A girl like you shouldn't be trying to carry this much water. You'll hurt yourself."
"No, I'll be fine. I'm stronger than I look. You startled me, is all." Brushing herself off, she tried to take the buckets from him, but he refused to give them up.
"Right. My face was so scary that it startled you." He turned and started walking towards the well. "Come on. I'll help you fetch the water." The girl was forced to follow along.
"Your face isn't scary."
As they moved towards the well, Inu-Yasha noticed the girl staring at his face intently, as if searching for something. In an attempt to outdistance her unnerving gaze, he lengthened his steps into a ground eating gait that most humans had trouble keeping up with. It wasn't quite a run, but it was a lot faster than his usual walk. To his surprise, she broke into an easy trot and remained at his side. Looking back at her, he noticed that her eyes were a startling golden color. He didn't realize it, but they were the exact shade of his own.
At the well Inu-Yasha quickly filled the two buckets and turned back the way they had come.
" Why don't you show me the way to your garden now, lass." The girl; Inu-Yasha realized he still didn't know her name; nodded and led the way. Now loaded down with the heavy buckets, the half-demon had to stretch a bit to keep up with her. "Hey, lass, I don't know your name yet."
"I'm called Aisa. And you?"
"Inu-Yasha" When he spoke his name, he thought he saw a note of recognition in her eyes, but it disappeared so quickly that he couldn't be sure.
"My garden is this way. Thank you for helping with the water." As Aisa spoke, they approached a small hut near the edge of the village. She led him around the back, where an unbelievably old woman crouched in a prosperous vegetable garden, pulling out weeds. As they entered the garden, she sat up and greeted them.
"Aisa, who's that you've got carrying your water for you, you lazy girl. Come closer and let me see his face." The lady's great crinkly grin belied her scolding words, and both Inu-Yasha and Aisa's mouths tugged upwards in an answering smile.
"Of course, haha." replied Aisa. Inu-Yasha set down the water before allowing her to tug him towards her mother. She stopped a few steps away, but pushed the half-demon onwards gently. Her mother took a firm hold of his chin and pulled it very close to her face, examining him carefully with eyes that were rheumy and clouded with age.
"Well lad, your face seems very familiar, but I can't quite.." Her words broke off as she looked at the top of his head. Without warning, her hands grabbed at his ears and tugged them weakly. Her eyes became wide as old eggs, and her lips trembled a little. "I-Inu-Yasha?" It came out in a whisper. "Kami-sama, you haven't changed a bit." His confusion must have shown on his face, for her expression softened into a sad smile. "Ah, you probably don't recognize Sanchi. It has been over fifty years."
"Sanchi?" Inu-Yasha frowned slightly. He leaned over a little, taking in her scent, and suddenly recognized her. "Oh! Sanchi!" he exclaimed, putting his arms around her.
"So you do remember? That stormy night?"
"Ohh yeah, I remember." He exchanged a toothy grin with Sanchi, unaware of how odd they looked, an old woman and a young man embracing like that.
"That was wonderful." she said, leaning into him. Then she turned her head to look at Aisa. "She's beautiful, isn't she? Our daughter?"